You all love a takeout remake and I do too! Sounds sort of wild, but when I began eating a paleo, grain-free diet, the thing I honestly missed the most wasn’t bread or sweets, but take out dishes. Losing the ability to order food from every delicious restaurant was a small price to pay for my greater health, but missing those dishes lit a fire in me to recreate dishes that I COULD eat! At this point I’ve recreated hundreds in my kitchen; for the blog; and across my cookbooks. But this one — Sesame Orange Chicken — is special. One of the most highly trafficked posts on my old website, againstallgrain.com, I decided it was high time to give this beloved recipe a revamp. Same incredible sweet and salty taste, but now with a new cooking method!
Easy Paleo Dinner
This year, I’m all about EASY dinners and meals. With the kids getting older, with more activities and less available time for me in the evening before dinner needs serving, easy is my highest priority.
So my classic takeout style recipe of Sesame Orange Chicken is, even after all these years, still one I rely upon constantly to get a sweet, tangy, slightly spicy dinner made effortlessly.
The recipe relies on simple naturally gluten-free ingredients — chicken thighs, orange juice, honey, tomato paste, garlic, coconut aminos, sesame oil, and some spices. Once the meat has cooked (either low and slow in a slow cooker, or in 10 minutes in the Instant Pot), turning up the heat to reduce the sauce is the key to getting it to silkily cling to the chicken.
Instant Pot Orange Chicken
Though I initially developed this recipe for the slow cooker, once I became an Instant Pot convert, I knew I wanted to adapt it.
Once you combine all of your ingredients, set the machine to high and let it come to pressure. It will cook for 10 minutes and then you can manually release the steam. Then, reduce the sauce: tap the saute button and let the sauce come up to a boil while you add your arrowroot slurry to thicken it. In five minutes, your dreamy sauce is reduced by half and twice as thick and it is done!
How to cook frozen chicken in instant pot
You can use either frozen or fresh chicken when you cook with the Instant Pot, which is a boon for some (ahem, often me) who forget to pull their chicken from the freezer. It only takes a few minutes of additional pressurized cooking to cook through frozen thighs — check the instructions for exact timing.
Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken
Who doesn’t appreciate a rock solid set-it-and-forget-it slow cooker recipe?! If you love getting dinner going in the morning before you even start your day so that it’s ready for you when the witching hour arrives, then this method is for you. If you own my first book, Against All Grain, you might notice that the original slow cooker recipe featured there does not have the orange zest or arrowroot slurry as ingredients. That recipe was simply developed earlier than the Instant Pot version and I think it works best with those ingredients so I’ve included them below.
Slow Cooker vs Instant Pot
Regardless of the cooking method you choose, this Sesame Orange Chicken stays remarkably moist and tender. Using chicken thighs, as opposed to breasts, helps, as does the moisture you’re cooking it in. The low and slow method may work better for some, like those who work from home or love a set-it-and-forget-it recipe that gets dinner made without any active cook time. But, the benefit of using the Instant Pot is not to be discounted. This method sets the machine for just 10 minutes of cook time and then another 5-10 for the sauce to thicken. So…dinner in less than 30 minutes!
Easy Gluten Free Dinners
My first book, Against All Grain, is full of easy gluten-free recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Inside you’ll find over 150 recipes — all paleo, grain, and gluten-free — including these three favorites.
Korean Beef Noodle Bowls, page 184
Honey Lime Salmon Tostadas, page 162
Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Coleslaw, page 140
Shop the Recipe
Watch me make Sesame Orange Chicken on Instagram!
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Sesame Orange Chicken (Two Cooking Methods!)
I’ve updated my most popular recipe ever — Paleo Sesame Orange Chicken — to include two cooking methods, slow cooker and Instant Pot!
- Prep Time: 2 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes - 4.5 hrs depending on method
- Total Time: 22 minutes-4.5 hours
- Yield: 4 1x
- 2lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (fresh or frozen)
- ⅓ cup coconut aminos
- ⅓ cup honey
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 Tbsp orange juice
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ – ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp arrowroot powder
- 2 Tbsp water
- sesame seeds, to garnish
- chopped green onions, to garnish
- 4 cups cauliflower rice, prepared
- Trim any visible fat from the chicken, and place it in either your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- Mix together all other ingredients, except sesame seeds, green onions, and arrowroot slurry, in a bowl and then pour over the chicken.
- Mix well to ensure the chicken is coated and sauce ingredients well distributed in the pot (especially important for the Instant Pot to avoid a burn notice).
- For the slow cooker: Set to cook on low for 4 hours.
- For the Instant Pot: Set to high pressure for 10 minutes (12 if your chicken is frozen). Manually release the pressure when cooking is complete.
- Remove the chicken from the pot or slow cooker, and cut or shred it. Spoon any fat off the top.
- If you used a slow cooker, transfer the sauce to a pan on the stovetop, add the arrowroot slurry, and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thickened.
- If you used an Instant Pot, add the arrowroot slurry, and then set the machine to saute for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is thickened.
- Add the chicken back to the sauce and stir. Serve over cauliflower rice and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.
This recipe is freezer friendly – cooked or uncooked!
I recommend using chicken thighs, but chicken breasts can be used instead.